This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My Last Post On Multiply

Nov 28, '12 9:24 PM
for everyone
My first post on Multiply was a poem. Just under seven years later, my last post is a goodbye...and a greeting.

Since the Multiply Export Tool did not work for me, I manually went through my posts and selected those I wished to save (it came to 500 odd out of approximately 2000, posted between 2006 and 2011 when I shifted to Blogspot - so you know that I think of my own writing about 75% sucks).

In any case, as of 2011 my main blog site is Bill the Butcher.

The site where my old Multiply material is stored is Hells Gate (you'll notice it's as closely modelled  in appearance on my Multiply site as I can make it).

My cartoons have a dedicated site at Raghead the Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist.

I wanted to say, thanks for all the good times and the laughter over the years, and for sticking with me through thick and thin. 

Hope to see you all "over there".


"Rainbow's End" (my first novel)

July 2006


My first novel, "Rainbow’s End", has, one hopes, finally reached the point where it might see the light of day. The last my publisher (United Publishers) told me was that it was set for a release in September of this year, ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.
This book has been years in the making. I got the idea a long time ago, back to front as it happens. I thought of the last chapter first and then thought up a story leading to the last chapter. I don’t know if this is unusual.
It kept on nagging at me while I told myself I’d not got the time for this sort of thing. Then when it got on my nerves enough I said "fuck it" and got down to writing it. And as I wrote and rewrote it became my life. Research, writing, the total absence of what passed for a social life, all this was the price I paid.
I interviewed former terrorists, including a top surrendered member of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Chakra Gohain. I read every scrap of news I could find on terrorists and their techniques. I visited the local jail, taking advantage of the fact that the state director general of prisons was my patient. And I used my imagination till my brain rose up in revolt.
The question still exists, "why?" Why would I spend a year of my life writing of this? No clear answers, except that I felt that the story of an entire lost generation of Indian youth, unknown, ignored, marginalised, drawn to "glory", needed to be told...somehow.
I wrote it like this. I’d write in my clinic, in between patients, on odd sheets of paper. Then in the evenings I would type the material up on MS Word. Every time I finished a chapter I would pass it on to a select group of friends for comments. This is the same technique I’m following for the novel I am currently writing. It took me over a year to finish the book when I finally got started on it…I used to replay the last line "High above, the first hawk of the day is already circling" over in my mind every day, like a talismanic charm. Finally -the night I wrote those words I'd written non-stop from morning onwards and I was so charged up I literally did not sleep for three days.
Having completed it in February last year, I first sent it to Roli Paperbacks in Delhi. Roli demanded some alterations which I, personally, felt detracted from the flow of narrative. But the woman who read it told me it was "boring", so, in the interests of getting the book into publication, I made those changes – which included deleting almost an entire chapter which I had spent a month and a half over. She then told me it was all right and she had passed it on to her editor, Renuka Mukherjee. This Mukherjee woman sat on the book all year until finally, after many reminders, she told me in January this year her company could not "take my book aboard" since their fiction quota was full. After a year!
Of course I know the reason…novels on the North East don’t sell. Not like diaspora fluff. Nothing personal, just business.
During 2005 I had incubated several ideas but couldn’t settle on any of them because there was no incentive to write so long as I did not know whether my work was fit for publication at all.
So I had to find another publisher in a hurry and I found United Publishers, whose office is in Guwahati and only a hundred kilometres away from my home. They had published a novel on the broadly same topic, Travelling With Dreams, not a good novel but at least I knew they would publish mine. And so it proved. Unfortunately, I had to shell out money as well to invest in its publication, but if some people at least buy the book and it does reasonably well (by Indian standards) I hope my future books would do better.
So, what is it about? It’s about terrorism in the North East, as seen through the eyes of an insurgent called Rollin Jethong. The book is basically a biography of Rollin and is spread over his years as an insurgent. I wrote it in the historical present tense and nothing in it happens that Rollin does not experience directly or indirectly.
I invented a tribe, Rollin’s tribe, which I called the Halkas. This is a pun, actually. There is a real tribe called the Garos, which had an insurgency going till recently. Now "Garo" means, in Bengali, "dense" while "Halka" means "light". Another tribe I created was called "Pathla" which also means "light". And I left the state and city where everything takes place unnamed.
Why this topic? Indians who read this will be aware of the insurgencies ravaging most of North East India. They are all different but have some factors in common:
  1. Ethnicity centred. They are for particular tribes or ethnic groups
  2. Extortionist. They are interested only in money, and this goes to finance their leaders and their lifestyles in Bangladesh where all these leaders hang out (I guess my book might end up being banned in Bangladesh, and if so, good. It will help sales!)
I’d probably have written it differently if I’d written it now, but I’m not gonna change anything, thanks very much.
In 2001 I was present just a hundred metres away from a terrorist strike by the (now practically defunct) Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) terrorists on an electronic store in Shillong which had refused to pay after extortion demands. Five people – three salesmen and two customers – were killed. I saw the blood on the ground for myself. I saw the fear psychosis which led people not even to dare to condemn the attack. I saw the church tacitly support the HNLC by clamming up (yet now that the HNLC is on its last legs the selfsame church comes forward to facilitate "peace talks"). I saw politicians convey terrorists through town during police crackdowns in their official cars. My friend Ricardo once called me to the shop in which he works (it's in the same building that my clinic is) and showed me an HNLC extortion operation in progress. And I saw – at last – the police being given a free hand and destroy the HNLC in the course of a single year.
No two insurgencies in the North East are exactly alike and my novel tries to include some features of them all. But my Halka People’s Liberation Front is most closely based on the HNLC.
There was one odd episode while writing the book. I was researching during writing, and planning ahead. Now so far as training went I could not find precise details but had an idea that the usual movie depiction of terrorists being trained using real weaponry was not on. So I had my HPLF men train with wooden guns. I thought if someone challenged me on this I’d say different groups trained differently. And then I came across a photo report in Frontline magazine on Zomi terrorists and their training camp. What were they training with? Wooden guns!
It’s all there in my book. I’m sorry if it’s not pretty, but murder, torture, extortion, threats, and urban guerrilla warfare seldom are.
The picture is the cover I painted for the book. It has been accepted, but is supposed to be retouched to shift the man over to the right. The publisher was stupid about this as well. He first asked me why the man looked like a Chinese (I guess he’s never seen a North Easterner before) and suggested I introduce a rainbow…
I had a lot of fun including names in the book from among my friends and acquaintances. For example, "Ken Jummong" was an amalgam of two friends from dental college days, Ken Ngomdir and Jummo Ango. And I’m doing the same for the book I’m writing stay in my good books!


November 2006:

These are two versions of the cover for my first novel, "Rainbow's End". The first painting was done in the early part of the year. 

Rollin - version 1
I had much trouble with the face and anyhow the figure is too stiff.

The publisher actually accepted it and then, suddenly, rejected it and demanded a new cover. One of the demands was for the human figure (my "hero" Rollin, it was meant to be) on the right so as to make it on the front cover. So I painted it again, and I think I did a better job second time around.

Rollin - version 2
It is, actually, not as dark as it looks on this, which is a digital photo of the painting and not a scan. The human figure is much more dynamic and I prefer this version by far.


14 August 2007

I just received the first copies of Rainbow's End, at long, long last ...I got two copies by post today. 

I'd had a look at the publisher's first copy in Delhi, but that was all on white rough paper and had thin covers with little printing merit. Today I got the first real copies - read passages from them, and...

Well, I'm as narcissistic as the next guy - and I do like to see myself in print, though that is hardly anything new for me any more. But this was the first book I'd written. It's like the first time I saw my article make the cover of Eastern Panorama magazine, back in 2002. 

OK, I won't review my own book, but they screwed the cover up a bit. They removed the figure in the painting I did and put up something that looks like a Nepali playing the guitar on a rifle of unknown design - on the same background. They did correct a couple of things wrong with the blurb on the back. I'd refused to accept any book which said "This is his first attempt at a novel." Attempt? WTF?

The printing isn't bad and the paper quality's good, but they amalgamated some of my paragraphs to shorten the length of the book. This pisses me off because they never asked me first. it also takes something away from the flow of the reading.

Oh well, OK already. Although I shall  never be getting anything published by this lot again, let me get them to at least promote my book then. I'm sure that unless I keep on prodding them they won't bother.

Will be putting up a photo of the cover in a day or two. Pass the word around in the meantime, Indians here, will you? And don't judge it by the (new) cover!





Andre Bernicot of Brest, France, bought my book and was happy enough that he came to visit me today. Here he is. 

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I'm sure I can't tell you why anyone would want to confuse me with what I write. But it made me happy, all the same, cranky hungover idiot that I am.


22 May 2008

Out of the blue, I just got a telephone call from the local (state-level) TV station. They want to interview me, about my writing and specifically about my first novel Rainbow's End   as well as about my upcoming writing, including my short stories and poetry.

The woman who called says she'll come to the clinic tomorrow afternoon to talk to me, and the actual interview will be next Thursday, which coincidentally also happens to be my half-day off from work. (Incidentally, the woman also said she's terrified of dentists so she'll talk to me in the waiting room of the clinic, thanks very much...)

You can believe that I'm sort of...excited.   


20 April 2009:

As a few of my readers
 know, I have one novel published, Rainbow's End, which came out (with a great deal of difficulty) in 2007. According to the (extremely incompetent) publisher, sales are almost nothing, and I have yet to receive a single penny in royalties. Yet I was astonished when, yesterday, a friend brought to my attention the fact that the novel is being promoted by a German website which has given it four stars of five...

According to this website, the novel is available through Majestic Books in London and Fine Books in New York. I have no idea who these people are and where their offices are, what their e-mail addresses are, etc. I didn't have the slightest idea that the book was even being sold abroad, come to that.

Those of you in London and NY - or with friends there - might do me a bit of a favour. I'm not going to ask you to buy the book, though if you do want to, an online review is here (from Priya D'Souza, "priloza", incidentally, who is a close friend of mine and therefore not quite an unbiased authority). But, since I am having a hard time getting my stuff published, you might let me know who these publishers are and how I might contact them. Since they've published one of my books they might be willing to consider more.

Also, if you are very gracious, you might let a few friends be aware that the book's available, by whatever means you choose. If I'm to have any incentive to continue to write, I need all the help I can get.

The Naked Ape

Just in case you think “mankind/humankind” is the highest point of evolution/”God’s” finest creation…

Recently I was browsing through an anthropology textbook and what I read got me thinking.

Strip, and stand in front of a mirror and take a good look at yourself sometime. Look at those stilt-like, unstable and breakable, those spindly arms (yeah, I know. But compare them with those of a gorilla, for instance), those pitiful feet with neither prehensile ability nor speed. Look at the soft skin, functionally hairless (and, no, a few sparse hairs don’t count as a pelt), unable to either protect  from injury or cold. Those weak teeth, useless for defence or even as tools. Eyes that are OK so far as colour perception go, but which are clearly inferior to those of many other animals. A nose that is virtually closed to odours, ears that can’t catch a fraction of the sound spectrum around, and what have you?

If you think of intelligence, too, well, according to what’s being discovered these days, we aren’t really as smart as we like to think. Other animals communicate, count, use tools, show altruistic behaviour even across species, and if a chimpanzee is found making herself a skirt out of bark one of these days, I won’t be surprised.

What, basically, distinguishes us?

We destroy when we don’t need to.

Is that all that’s needed to be Masters of the World?  

"They're complete Neanderthals" : No, they aren't

From October 2008

One of the things that irritates the hell out of me is reading things like “so-and-so (someone the speaker doesn’t like, obviously) are complete Neanderthals”.

All right, I may be nitpicking, but I’ve always felt people should know just what the hell it is that they are talking about. The last time I came across this, it was someone claiming the Bush gang were Neanderthals. Oh please.

I hate the Bushies as much as anyone, as everyone here knows perfectly well. But it’s ridiculous to compare them, or any other Alpha-male or Vandal-type, to Neanderthals, and for clear and definite reasons.

Now I’m sure you know something about the Neanderthals, unless you learned to read just yesterday; but some things need repeating.

First is the basic and irretrievable fact that Neanderthals are extinct. That’s right, dead, unless some person does a Jurassic Park and recreates one from DNA; of that, more anon.

The second thing is that Neanderthals were humanoid, even quasi-human; although scientists as yet aren’t decided whether they were a human subspecies (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) or a separate species (Homo neanderthalensis). Since I’m sure nobody reading this will be a creationist nitwit, you get the significance of the classification. If Neanderthals were a human subspecies, they would have been able to interbreed with modern humans; if they were a different species, they wouldn’t. And so far as we can find, unfortunately, they didn’t, and they were a separate species. (Yeah, I too wish they had, and they weren't, but we have to go by facts, however unpleasant. That’s why we believe in science.)

Since Neanderthals are extinct, and moreover, didn’t interbreed with our species, calling Bush a Neanderthal would be factually incorrect.

Of course, there’s much more to come.

Neanderthals were bipedal and looked a lot like humans. But there were many differences too; they had a more muscular body, a much larger brain size, but the shape of the skull was markedly different, suggesting that they may have had a more developed visual system and been capable of less vocalisation. And so on and so forth.

But the Neanderthals also used stone tools, hunted, performed surgery (one skeleton has an amputated arm) and religion (they buried their dead with flowers). You think about that. Proto-humans who did all that…and who vanished after coming into contact with modern humans, the Cro-Magnon, everywhere along their range.

What does this suggest? It suggests that these large-brained, muscular, tool-using, evolved hominids were wiped out, either directly or by out-hunting and out-breeding, by the Cro-Magnon, does it not?

High time we began calling stupid, destructive morons Cros.

No insult intended to Corvus splendens, though. 

(By the way, creationists love to pretend that Neanderthals were modern humans. Not so.)

And This Too Is Art

June 2007


A woman lying on a stage made to look like a bedroom, completely naked, with a small dead pig draped over her, which she cuts with a knife. What would you call this?

I wouldn't say so, would you?
Well, what do I know? 
Kira O'Reilly not only did it, she got paid for it as well. From taxpayers' funds.
Now we know the future of art...
I think I'll stick to being a dinosaur.

These People Are Crazy

September 2010

As regular readers of my blog are aware, among the comic strips I follow is Luann, by Greg Evans. Before I go on further, I’d like you to take a look at today’s (8 September) strip:

To see the full-size version, click here.

For those of you (just about everyone, I suppose) who have no idea what on earth is going on, here’s the back story: the muscled guy in the sunglasses, Dirk, is a man with a history of violence and uncontrollable temper. After beating up Brad, the son of the black-haired woman, Nancy (because his, Dirk’s, ex-girlfriend, Toni, was hanging out with him), he was issued with a restraining order to stay away from Brad, and went to jail after violating that order. And now, after several years off the strip, Dirk’s back...a changed man, apparently, because he got religion in prison. Check out that gigantic cross he’s holding up as if to hide behind, or to ward off vampires.


If there’s one thing that sends alarm signals up my spine, it’s one of these people who get religious somewhere in their post-adolescent lives. As an atheist, I can adapt to people who’ve been religious since they’ve been old enough to be indoctrinated, for good or bad; generally their worldview, however intense their personal beliefs, is “live and let live”. It’s the lot who “find religion” all of a sudden, and I mean genuinely “find it”, who are as cuddly and harmless as a Humboldt squid in a feeding frenzy.

For example, in that cartoon, if I were Nancy, I’d probably be infinitely better off if Dirk were only pretending to have discovered religion; sham religion wears off pretty quick and one can reason with such people. On the other hand, if he really had religion, what might be going through his head could be something along these lines:

“Toni is mine, in the eyes of the Lord. Whom God hath joined, let no man sunder. Therefore, Brad is doing the work of Satan by coming between Toni and me. And therefore, I will be doing the Lord’s work if I destroy him. Amen.”

You see where this would tend to end up, if the cartoonist followed the story to a logical conclusion? A hostage situation, and someone getting shot.

I tell you, these born-again characters are terrifying. Check out the lists of religious fanatics and terrorists; just about every one of them “found” religion at a relatively “late” stage of life, by which I mean after adolescence, by which time their thought processes (if any) have solidified. There seems to be a kind of switch that turns on and – toquote a forgettable character in a forgettable film – “Scripture (twists) that man deadly” in those circumstances.

Somehow, people who fall into religion at this stage in life don’t seem to understand what the hell religion is meant to be: essentially a series of guidelines to help one make one’s way through life, for those who need or desire such guidelines. Instead, the letter of religion suddenly becomes infinitely more important than the spirit. And this letter, of course, is only the translated, interpreted, usually twisted, and then more often than not hate-drenched version of the original intent of whoever the founder or founders of the religion was. I often wonder if Christ or Muhammad would have bothered if he could’ve seen his followers today!

So this is why we can have morons like that idiot pastor in Floridawho wants to burn a Quran, and we have people all ready to be provoked by this as well. And so on, and on, and on.

So, if you see the late-life born-again convert, be afraid. Be very afraid.

He’d kill his God for his religion, and I’m not joking about that.

In The Driver's Seat

March 2008

Back in the days when I was a kid, there were hardly any women drivers around.
I remember once when I must have been eight or nine years old, seeing a woman behind the wheel, smiling and looking a bit embarrassed as the men stared. Of course, there were many times fewer cars on the streets in those days.
Now before I go on, I’m going to make a couple of things clear:
No, I do not think unrestricted private car ownership is a good thing – those of you who are regulars on this blog have heard me expounding on this often enough, so I don’t need to repeat the reasons.
Also, I do not share in the belief (or pretended belief) that women drivers are inferior to men. On the other hand, I think women, with their lower testosterone levels and in general greater respect for authority, are liable – once they have an equivalent amount of experience behind the wheel or handlebars – to be safer and less aggressive drivers than men, any old day of the week.
So let’s get on with what I was saying.
Nowadays, close to half the non-commercial vehicles, at least in this city, are driven by women. And not just young women either – I’ve seen sixty year olds with white hair and bifocals taking driving lessons; and, really, why not?
Today, when I saw a woman driving a carload of kids back from school (and they were in the uniform of my old school, and all of a size; they were certainly not all her kids, either) I realised again, just how empowering driving is to a woman, and on how many levels.
First, of course, it frees her directly by liberating her from the constrains of being dependent on her man for transport (assuming that no dependable and affordable public transport exists). It gives her freedom to work, freedom from being housebound, freedom to be something more than a fixture.
(And, of course, it frees men too – when their wives can drive, they don’t have to take time off from work to take them to their jobs or shopping, or to bring the kids back from school. Got that, MCPs?)  
But it frees her on another, totally different level. Back in my youth, when women never drove, the average child thought of its mother as a homebound caregiver, no more. Watching those kids sitting staring out of the window as the woman negotiated bumper-to-bumper traffic, it struck me that whatever they thought of her now, homebound caregiver isn’t the term for it.
Roll on Michaela Schumacher.

"Stand By Your Man"

They call it the Battered Woman Syndrome, but I can't understand it.

One of the things that always has surprised and shocked me is the sheer number of women who are willing to stay with abusive men – men who torture them mentally, abuse them in public, beat them up daily, deny them food and shelter, and quite often end up killing them (whether by violence or AIDS or neglect doesn’t matter very much).
It wouldn’t be that shocking (though just as bad) if these women were all uneducated or unemployed and had no social or economic alternative – but so much of the time it isn’t.
I know women, educated, qualified women, who have been publicly insulted by their husbands, who have been turned into virtual marital slaves, who have nothing but the husk of a dead marriage to cling to – and still they won’t quit. I know at least one woman whose philandering, drug-addicted husband has tried to kill her more than once, and spent time in prison for it – and when he came out she took him right back, and he did it all over again.
It's not as though it were the children, either. There are these women with children old enough to withstand a parental separation, or even no children at all. 
I wonder what it is that makes them do it. Is it the brainwashing their parents subject them to, that a woman must sacrifice herself for a man? Have they suppressed their self-worth so much that this seems better than the other alternatives? There are illiterate, “helpless” women who find the courage to walk out on abusive men – and here we have educated women, professionally qualified, preferring the marital hell to the air of freedom.
I’m sorry, I just don’t understand this phenomenon. Maybe someone will enlighten me. 

Sleeping With The Enemy

Over the years I’ve encountered many amazing examples of male chauvinism and – more amazing than that – female acquiescence to the chauvinism. There are questions and questions that I’ve asked myself and some conclusions I reached, while some other answers remain hanging in the air.
I can only touch the surface of this in a blog post; there must be encyclopaedias written on the subject, I’m sure.
Of course, one might begin with wondering about where male chauvinism began and why it still exists. I’m sure I can’t go and give you a full account, but – at least in this country – men are systematically brainwashed from childhood into thinking they are superior to women. Some of it they learn by watching their own fathers and their mothers. Typically, the mothers will tremble at the words of their lords and masters, and the fathers…well, the fathers will treat the mothers like a piece of kitchen and housekeeping equipment that doubles up as a sex toy. That’s about it.
So, the kid who goes through childhood watching this daily routine of a mom who basically slaves all day just to feed her brood and who has no opinion on anything…or if she does she takes jolly good care to keep these opinions to herself. And he sees how mom isn’t even consulted on anything, in fact isn’t entitled to an opinion on what’s to be affecting her own life, and he decides, yes, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Women are inferior animals with no brains of their own.
Now I’ll emphasise that this is not automatically true for every society or at all times. Of course, now, animals like hyenas or elephants have always been led by females, but even among human societies, the matrilineal condition has been at least as common as patriarchy. This was despite the fact that endless pregnancies tended to keep women tied down to the hearth. However – by and large – the more a society develops mercantilism, the more women are relegated to an inferior position.
This I believe is because of the simple ability of males to use their larger physical size to inflict violence on each other and on women; and the male belief that he’s got a more analytical brain than his mate and accordingly deserves to rule her thinking.
You must understand that in chauvinism of any kind, facts don’t matter.
For instance, the sex of the child may be decided by what chromosome the father contributes; but if the mother keeps giving birth to daughters in a male centric society, do you think she’ll be allowed to get away with it?       
For instance, a man can fall ill and demand that his woman forego food and sleep to wait on him hand and foot – but if she has the temerity to be ill, it’s because she’s trying to draw attention to herself. (Yes, I know one woman, an asthmatic, whose husband has repeatedly told her this in public when she gets attacks).
For instance, a woman will have to cook and clean and provide for the family – but if her husband neglects to give her any money to get all that done, it’s still her responsibility to do it all.
And then there is religion, of course. Just about all modern religions are aggressively anti-woman. The worst reputations are shared by Islam and Catholicism, but let me tell you – Orthodox Hinduism makes the Taliban look like ardent feminists. Among Orthodox Hindu goodies for women are –
Women are inferior to men; the purpose of women in life is to bear heirs for their men; women cannot worship many gods without male sanction and intercession; women cannot attend cremations; women cannot inherit property; menstruating women are ritually polluted; widowed women must spend the rest of their lives mourning for their husbands, who are literally their gods (pati parmeshwar); and more.
No wonder I find North Indian (especially, since antifemale discrimination is at its height in North India) women unable even to tell their own physicians their names or to answer questions like “where does it hurt”? They’ve been conditioned too – by their parents, by their religion, and by their milieu. They'll do anything, be starved, beaten, stripped of all dignity, even be burned alive, and they will take it as their lot in life. I used to see, when I was an intern in Lucknow, many women arrive badly burned in "kitchen fires" who would die after a few days stubbornly insisting they had accidentally caught on fire - and everyone knew what had happened. Brainwashed to the point of death.
Now we've arrived at the other side of the coin – female acquiescence. Frankly I find this at least as infuriating as male chauvinism. I’ve said this before: women are their own worst enemies, the worst enemies of feminism. If women didn’t gang up with men to insult, humiliate, and oppress women, how long could men last? A simple kitchen strike would have wiped them out! Sometimes the woman will for some unfathomable reason stay on and be abused rather than fight back. All too common. So common that I’ve stopped expecting anything else.
Damn. Time to stop for the night. This is getting me depressed.

Culture Vulture

Hermann Goering was one of the less repulsive of the Nazis, someone I don’t find quite as easy to dislike as I do the others. One of his comments I treasure: “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’, I reach for my pistol.” Incidentally, he was a wonderful shot with that pistol, reputedly able to shoot the caps off bottles at thirty metres without touching the bottles themselves.
Now I could spare the word ‘culture’ my attentions, but for the total, appalling, inexcusable rape, murder and mutilation visited upon it by people who should know better, especially here in India. “Culture” for them is a carry all term. It can be interpreted as one wishes, and used to excuse pretty much everything.
Social discrimination on the basis of caste? It’s Indian culture!
Murdering brides for dowry? It’s Indian culture!
Disdain for social responsibilities and hygiene? It’s Indian culture!
Suppressing sexuality? It’s Indian culture!
Thinking we’re better than everyone else? Well, jiminy whiz, it’s Indian culture!
Taking bribes and greasing palms? Believe it or not, that’s Indian culture as well…
The worst offenders are the North Indians, who love to pass off their socially retrograde traditions, including child marriage, the wilful neglect of girl children, polygamy, sex-selective abortion, you name it, all as Indian culture. For the North Indian, of course, North India isIndia. He (the “she” part of the equation has not the right to have her own opinion) is almost always either ignorant of, or ignores, the world outside North India (a vague place called “Assam”, some “Bambai”, another called “Madras”, and a vague abroad known as “Amrika”, all of which are pretty inconsequential anyway). With only slight differences, this goes even for the educated lot.
I recall attending a “cultural festival” in Lucknow years ago where a tribal troupe from Central India, far better than the rest, was not given the award because they were not “typical of Indian culture.” And the judges were – allegedly – committed and qualified individuals.
Down in the east, we Bengalis, with our kalchaar (the Bengali typically can’t pronounce the hard “u” to save his life) are a national laughing stock. The less said about us the better. Bengalis still worship at the altar of the long dead Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate in 1911. That’s the last anyone ever heard of Bengali “culture” in real terms. Marathis, in the west of the country, have their similar fixation on the centuries-ago “hero”, their king Shivaji. In the name of these long gone men, Bengalis and Marathis are willing to burn down buildings and vandalise libraries. Just as in the South the Tamils and Kannadas, who literally worship their film actors as gods and goddesses (no, I am not joking) can do when said deities prove they are mortal after all. Some culture.
Let’s, therefore, see some manifestation of Indian “culture”:
We are happy to have foreigners come and gawk at our erotic temple sculpture, but we ban Fashion TV because that is “against Indian culture”.
We’re more than pleased that they should come and pay to visit the (Muslim) Taj Mahal, but we demolish mosques to build temples to fictional god-kings.
We go on about Indian culture being harmed by sex education in schools, yet this is the land of the world’s oldest sex manual, theKama Sutra.
We keep talking of Indian culture requiring arranged marriages – yet history and traditions are full of people who married for love or did not marry at all.
We - except here in the North East - worship cows and leave them to starve in the street and attack people (I have been attacked numerous times and injured twice) and try to suppress the simple fact that historically Indians ate beef and offered up cows for sacrifice.
We go on about how extramarital relationships are against Indian culture - yet we worship the god Krishna, who allegedly had 16,000 concubines called gopis.
We love to talk about how we revere the old. So –in human terms – old women dumped to beg for a living in Vrindavan or – in material terms – newly excavated temples being taken to pieces for their bricks is also part of Indian culture? Writing graffiti on the walls of the Qutb Minar in Delhi is culture?
The oldest habitation on the subcontinent so far discovered was the Indus Valley Civilisation of about the same antiquity as the Sumerians. These people are of unknown origin, but the Hindu Right were busy trying to prove they were proto-Hindus. Now these people also had extremely high levels of town drainage (covered brick-lined sewers, drainage sumps, the works) and personal hygiene (public and private baths). So these alleged proto-Indians were clean and hygienic. I suppose the current state of India, with garbage dumps in public and unwashed multitudes, urinating in public against walls, isalso in accordance with Indian culture?
So let’s demolish Khajuraho, blow up the Taj Mahal, and bulldoze theIndus Valley cities down under again. And let’s impose North Indian social norms, South Indian films, Marathi kings, and Bengali music on us all.
Now that would be Indian culture.

Liars, Inc.

May 2007

We are surrounded by people paid to be mendacious.
Some of them are the obvious suspects: politicians above all, but also weather forecasters, fiction writers (all right, this means I'm hoist by my own petard, but at least I'm not yet paid to be mendacious - I have not till date earned a single low-denomination coin from my fiction, have I?), journalists, spin doctors, and so on. But there is another type, so ubiquitous they are everywhere - hell, there are some on the side bars of this page.
I refer to the tribe called advertisers, and the job they do.
Not all of them - not any of them, by and large - are as honest as the photo on top, an advert for a German TV news channel. Almost all of them are out to make you spend your money by lying to you about what whatever it is they are plugging is capable of. And the more outrageous the lie, apparently, the better.
OK, I do agree that since I never ever read ads any more and if  - rather, when, they're there as regular as clockwork - ads come up on the rare occasion when I'm flipping channels on TV I just hit the remote, I may not be the ideal person to talk on this. But that doesn't mean I can avoid ads, because you can't even open up your newspaper without half the page being taken up by some grinning half clad woman with an impossible body type selling toothpaste.
Some of it is just abrasively silly. Some of it is wholesale destruction of the environment, as with those glossy extra pages with the papers which take all those trees and all that ink to make and which carries nothing except ads for cruises and clothing lines, some disguised as "lifestyle articles". Some of it is downright stupid, as the line of ads which sold Polo mints in India as "The Mint With The Hole". Yeah, a hole through the centre was its USP! They really must have thought the average consumer wasn't bright enough to deduce that a hole meant a hole's worth less mint per piece.
As my cousin, an advertising executive, freely admits, advertisers proceed on the assumption that you and I have the IQ of a retarded maggot. 
And some of it gets dangerous, like when the advertisers buy the news and make it slant its reportage one way or the other. I remember when the sponsorship boom was taking off some ten or twelve years ago and a sarcastic commentator said "At this rate they'll be sponsoring the news soon enough." Well, not only is the news sponsored now, it's been bought over. And they can advertise wars as well as milk chocolate.
Oh yeah. Let's not forget the surrogate ads. When liquor ads were banned, on Indian media, they began advertising anything else. Anything, even if it did not exist, so long as it carried the liquor brand's name. My favourite was the one where they advertised the bottle, not its contents. Brilliant!
And that's not the end of it. Just check the ads themselves. There are those that take you for a total idiot, so they have to rub your face in the message before they admit you get it. There are those that are so esoteric you go cross-eyed trying to make out what the hell they are selling and what the logical connection, if any, is between the ad and the product. Sometimes you don't even get to understand what the  product is
And there was this ad where (I do not remember the product) a line of (dark, traditionally clad, non-beautiful) village women are wending their way across the sands of the desert, jars of water on their heads, when a (young, fair, pretty, half clad, obviously urban) girl begins taunting them. The infuriated women begin hurling the water they are carrying on her - and this is precisely what she wants, and she begins dancing with pleasure in the shower of water.
Now India is full of village women who walk many kilometres each day for a few precious pots of water. Mocking them, it must have seemed to the morons who wrote this particular ad, was the acme of humour.
So they are not just stupid and lying. They are utterly insensitive as well.

Anti-Americanism: A Personal View

March 2007:

I think there isn’t anyone among the regulars on my blog who’s unaware of my feelings about the Bush imperium and about imperialism in general. I’ve been writing now for years – since September 2001 at least – of the particular danger posed by the United States of America to the world at large, and I’ve repeatedly pointed out the fact that in my own considered opinion the planet, as a living entity, cannot continue to tolerate the existence of the US in its present form.

Does that, however, make me anti-American, as I’m accused, virtually on a daily basis, of being?


What is being anti-American, anyway? Am I against the soil of the United States? Am I against grizzly bears, coyotes, and redwoods? Am I supposed to oppose the existence of the Gila Monster or the Grand Canyon (and never mind – just for a moment - the US Rangers there being forbidden to mention its geological origins)? 

It’s easy to say, like so many of my interlocutors on Orkut and other websites, that “All Americans are evil,” “all Americans should be killed, “the only good American is a dead American,” and so on. Most of the people who say this are immature and semi-educated, but not all; most of them are Muslim, and of a fundamentalist bent of mind, but not all. I’ve known white Australians with college degrees and of impeccably Christian heritage who refused to even writethe word “America” properly.

These people aren’t insincere in their viewpoints. When they say “All Americans are evil” they mean what they say. They’re just not adequately informed. They’re also excellent propaganda copy for the enemy; because don’t imagine the Bush cabal doesn’t know about them, and doesn’t use them as fodder in its “They hate our freedoms” campaign.

Before I go further, let me clearly state my position, so there isn’t any confusion over what I’m saying.

I hate the government of the United States of America, its armed forces, its social and economic system, its foreign policy, and its continuing attempts to impose its ownership over the world. There is nothing I would like better than to see all this destroyed.

I do not hate the people of the United States, its tradition – now imperilled – of free thought and dissent. I do not hate even the most retrogressive, the most hidebound denizen of the Bible Belt, because – unlike the “America to the gallows” crowd – I do know a little of what I am talking about.

Americans have done a hell of a lot of horrible things, and continue to do a lot of horrible things. They – even if nothing else mattered –live so wastefully that if we all did the same, we would need six more Earths just to supply the resources. They do have a government, which they (by common perception) voted to power which is hell bent on turning the rest of the world into slaves. Granted.


Take another look.

The average American is brainwashed systematically from birth to believe that his/her country is the greatest in the world, that the nation’s authority flows from “god”, that the country stands for “good”, that anyone opposing it must be therefore evil, that everyone loves America, and that since America is the centre of the universe nothing else is really worth knowing. The average American is carefully guided into these beliefs by being kept systematically ignorant, especially in these days of “intelligent design” and “teach the controversy”, of science and logical thinking; he or she is force fed TV trash till what is on TV becomes the perceived reality. A nation where museums can exist that posit that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, or where the Grand Canyon’s geological history is suppressed, cannot be considered a nation looking at modernity. A nation where the price of petrol (“gasoline”) becomes the benchmark of foreign policy success cannot be considered a modern society.

So when this American who has never been taught to think for himself, who has been force fed the notion of the infallibility of Genesis, who has been brainwashed into believing that his nation is the greatest on earth and is beloved of all except “evildoers”, is suddenly confronted with the truth, that is, that America is not the most loved nation in the world, but rather the most hated; that the rest of the world does not want to live as American vassals; and that US power is not universally applicable, and that not everyone thinks “god” made the world in six days and rested on the seventh, he is faced with a stupendous intellectual shock.

What then is easier but to delude this wretched individual into the belief that he does not see what he is seeing, but that this is all the result of a conspiracy by “liberals”, “faggots”, “commies” and other traitors? Especially when you control the media, and where these individuals have only the media as their window on the world?

Of course, this American is also likely to be a person of limited economic means, and therefore of limited access to independent information or education, and he is likely to be kept there in that economic bracket. He will be encouraged to buy on credit and not save at all; in his employment, he will be deprived of the right to form effective unions so that he can be kept under further control by not having economic security; and as far as his health is concerned, he will not be able to afford any real care without expensive and often unaffordable insurance. All this will go to keeping him exactly where he is.

He has democracy, sure – he has the right to vote for either the Republicans or the Democrats, between whom one would need an electron microscope to distinguish, and who follow exactly the same policies on virtually every issue one can name, even if they were voted to power to do the exact opposite. 

All this is not quite enough, so you also have warrantless arrests, the deliberate fomenting of fear and a siege mentality, the poisonous military industrial complex, the USA Patriot Act and  similar legislation, all designed to keep the population – including our putative American - in a state of permanent and voluntary subjugation.

Does this American, therefore, look like a monster any more? Doesn’t he begin to look like just another victim?

What amazes me, frankly, is that this American, despite all that is going against him, can’t be kept down. You can do your worst, but the American still can’t be fooled all of the time.

When the US dropped more bombs on the inoffensive neutral nation ofCambodia than were dropped in all of World War II and napalmed Vietnamese villages, who stormed the streets with slogans like “Hey Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”


When the US was actively planning the invasion of Iraq, which everyone outside the US knew had neither WMDs nor links to Al Qaeda, who – despite it being “unpatriotic” then – came on the streets in their hundreds of thousands to protest the planned invasion even before it happened?


Just, as a piece of perspective for Indians – can you imagine any of us marching on the streets to protest an Indian invasion of Sri Lanka, for example, as actually happened in 1987?       

Who risked their careers, when they did not have to, to protest the mass murders of Iraqi and Afghan civilians? Who are the Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn? Who are Cindy Sheehan, Eric Blumrich, or our very own Malcolm Mills? 


Can you, my fellow Indians, imagine Amitabh Bacchhan or Lata Mangeshkar protesting the murder of Kashmiri civilians by Indian troops?

Who was it that insisted on the individual’s right to oppose governments, even governments at war, and went to jail rather than pay taxes that would go to support an illegal war? Henry David Thoreau, in my own opinion one of the greatest philosophers since Socrates, and he was an American, too.

And another question – yes, the American government and its corporate cronies are vile beyond comprehension. Yes, they would be glad to batten upon us and suck us dry. Yes, they think they own the world. But can they actually,by themselves, impose their will on all of us?

Who the hell do these murderous parasites work through? Isn’t it our own governments, our own “leaders”, who follow their orders and let them in through the door? When farmers commit mass suicide and Manmohan Singh (who came to power promising an independent foreign policy and left of centre economics) parrots economic policies written down for him by the World Bank, when he betrays our old friend Iran by voting – not once by twice – against it in the IAEA in order to please Washington, when he throws our ports and air space open to American military units, what price anti-Americanism? Why don’t we rise up, pull this Quisling out of his office and hang him by his own intestines from the lamp-posts? Until we destroy the compradors and fifth columnists among us, do we have a right to blame it all on Washington?

Of course it’s easy to do that. Blame the Americans. It’s easy to do for the same reason that it’s easy for the Bushies to claim that anyone who hates theUS does that because he “hates their freedoms”.

Ignorance and chauvinism make the worst of all combinations.